The NFL wrapped up its Annual Meeting down in Palm Beach, Florida this week, and the dominant story over the three-day event was the continuing fallout from the Saints' bounty program.
And the biggest news to come from the event involved former Patriots head coach Bill Parcells, who is being talked about as a replacement head coach for New Orleans this season while Sean Payton serves a suspension.
The idea of Parcells returning to the NFL energized the otherwise lackluster gathering, and seemed like the perfect subject for this week's debate topic.
Should Bill Parcells be allowed to fill in for Sean Payton as Saints head coach in 2012?
Read the arguments from the Patriots Football Weekly writers, then cast your vote in our Samsonite Make Your Case poll.
Erik Scalavino says, "No ..."
When the news broke, it was reported that Payton had approached Parcells about taking over for him while he sat out 2012. My initial reaction was, 'Who does Sean Payton think he is?'
For one thing, it's not up to Payton to make such a decision. That's the owner's responsibility. Now, it's entirely possible that Tom Benson, the Saints owner, instructed Payton to approach his former boss in Dallas, Parcells, about coming in temporarily. It's also plausible that the idea was Payton's and he wanted to approach Parcells before taking it to Benson.
At this point, it's unclear, and Benson was conspicuously silent in public during the Annual Meeting, where all the NFL's top brass were in attendance. In fact, as of Friday morning, Benson had yet to make any public statements about his team's punishment for the bounty scandal (Payton suspended for a year; GM Mickey Loomis suspended for eight games and fined $500,000; the Saints fined $500,000 and docked a pair of second-round draft picks - one this year, one next).
I'd like to know who came up with idea of Parcells taking over in New Orleans.
On the surface, it seems to me to violate the spirit of the Payton suspension, which is to punish the Saints for what they'd done. They should have to make due with the remaining assistants on the staff, so that Payton's loss is actually felt. Commissioner Roger Goodell, however, appears to be willing to let this happen, but, like me, he feels the decision should be Benson's, not Payton's, and Goodell said as much at the Annual Meeting.
Parcells became a mercenary long ago - swooping in to turn a franchise around, then immediately leave town - so, it's not surprising at all that he has said he'd be "a hypocrite" not to consider the offer, if it is formally made. His reasoning was that he owed it to Payton, a former assistant, as a friendly gesture, just like former coaches like Chuck Noll, Chuck Knox, and Tom Landry helped him out early in his career.
I have no problem at all with that line of thinking. I just don't think the Saints should be allowed to hire Parcells - or any coach, for that matter - who's currently outside the organization. There are enough competent people on Payton's staff already who could be double as a temporary head coach in his absence.
Sure, it might be more work for that person individually and the New Orleans coaches as a whole. But then, isn't that the whole point of the punishment?
Paul Perillo says, "Yes ..."
I must confess - I've always been a huge Bill Parcells fan and I would love to see him back roaming the sidelines for one last year. I understand that he can be a controversial figure and not everyone feels the same way, but to me he'll always be remembered as a huge part of the Patriots turnaround along with Robert Kraft and Drew Bledsoe. Together that trio made New England relevant, and I'll always be grateful for that.
Parcells can be equally engaging and rude when dealing with the media but one thing he never would be considered is dull. He's the perfect fill-in for Sean Payton down in the New Orleans, and with Drew Brees and a pretty talented roster to work with there's a good chance Parcells would be able to keep the Saints on the straight and narrow and lead them right back to the playoffs.
Too often in sports today ideas that seem unconventional are dismissed without ever really giving them much consideration. The idea of having a 70-year-old Parcells return to coaching after five seasons may seem like just such an example. But what better option would a team have than putting a future Hall of Fame coach in charge knowing that he'll only be keeping the seat warm for Payton?
One other reason I like the idea of Parcells returning - it represents a nice tweak to the Hall of Fame voters who have obviously been reticent to put him in his rightful place in Canton. For some reason the powers that be decided coaches needed to be out of the game for five years before being eligible, and since Parcells always seems to return at some point he remains on the outside looking in. Who really cares if an active coach is already in the Hall? Joe Gibbs was when he came back, why not Parcells? By returning Parcells continues to expose this foolish flaw.
This represents the latest NFL shockwave in an offseason full of them. I say it's a home run.
Your turn! Cast your vote in this week's Samsonite Make Your Case poll.